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by Tony West
The 2016 North American International Auto Show saw more debuts than any of us auto writers were expecting. And the 2017 Lexus LC 500 rolled away with the 2016 Eye on Design Award.
Lexus surprised fans with a new luxurious sport coupe- more swagged out than its RC cousin, and with a naturally aspirated V8 and a 10 speed manual trans! Chief Branding Officer and Master Driver for Lexus Akio Toyoda is spearheading a new frontier of ultra-luxury performance cars. “A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction with the luxury market,” he notes. This flagship luxury coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about Toyota’s emotional direction and will grow the Lexus luxury appeal globally.
Luckily the LC 500’s design retains much of the best attributes I loved about the LF-LC Concept from a few years back. The new production model shares many of the LF-LC’s key design elements and proportions.
An athletic design comprised of high-strength steel is the foundation for this whip. The 2017 LC 500 is low with a 113 inch wheelbase. The four-seater coupe embodies Lexus’ rear-wheel drive front-engine platform with sensual curves and a wide body front fascia that creates a menacing stance. The whip’s athletic prowling profile shows its fast sloped roofline, wind-cutting silhouette and compact rear overhangs.
The LC 500 front fascia features a new rendering of Lexus’ infamous spindle grille with a 3D mesh design and chrome on three sides. The whip also has L shaped daytime running lights and LED headlights with an ultra-thin projector enabling a low hood with short overhang.
A glass roof is standard on the new LC 500. A carbon fiber rood is available. A rear diffuser and available active rear spoiler help manage airflow during performance driving. The LC 500 rides on machine-cast aluminum 20 inch or 21 inch forged aluminum wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Tires with Premium Touch Sidewall technology.
The 2017 Lexus LC 500 utilizes a premium rear-wheel drive platform as part of its inertia spec platform. The new platform is an effort to sharpen the whip’s handling by placing most of the mass including the engine and passengers in a lower more centered position in the chassis.
In addition, driver hip and heel points have been lowered, wheels have been pushed to the corners of the car with shortened overhangs and the drivetrain mass has been located behind the front axle to create a front mid-ship layout. The 12-volt battery is in the trunk as part of this mission to redistribute weight. The whip also has aluminum door skins mounted to the carbon fiber door inner structure and a composite trunk floor. All of this helps the whip achieve an impressive 52/48 weight balance.
The ultra-luxurious performance coupe also has weight saving components that add rigidity and resilience. Lexus engineered the stiffest unibody the brand has ever produced. The strategic use of lightweight high-strength steel makes for a high degree of torsial rigidity, stiffness across the wheelbase and resilience to flexural forces to help create a dynamic sporting level of handling and sharper steering response. Special braces in the steering compartment, the adoption of stiff aluminum front suspension towers and the addition of a ring structure near the rear fenders are all measures that help further bolster the strength of the key chassis features.
The 2017 Lexus features the same naturally aspirated 5.0 liter V8 engine found in the RC F and the GS F. The direct-injected 32-valve V8 has a smooth linear throttle response and emotional engine sound. Along with a roaring note, the V8 boasts 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque. It’s built with a durable lightweight high-strength forged connecting rods and titanium valves.
Accelerating the LC 500 will activate the Sound Generator with tuned acoustics can enhance the engine’s raucous melody into an aural thunder.
The 5.0 liter V8 is matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The trans is smaller and lighter than the 8-speed and shift times rival a dual-clutch transmission. The 10-speed automatic is coupled to a new electric control system with software that helps anticipate drivers’ inputs by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral forces. The wide bandwidth of 10 closely spaced gears provides an optimal shift in all conditions.
The Lexus LC 500 features a multilink suspension system with double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms. Double ball joints help optimize suspension geometry to increase wheel control and create a more precise steering response. And all but one of the control arms are made of lightweight forged aluminum.
The Lexus LC 500 also boasts the Lexus Safety System + that features All Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, a Pre Collision System, Lane Keeping Assist, a millimeter-wave radar with a camera, and Automatic High Beam.
The driver-focused cockpit features four seats with Alcantara leather and Takumi finish on the door, dash, and center console. The interior also features the 2017 Lexus Multimedia system with a standard premium Pioneer sound system and available Mark Levinson audio package.
Add the new Lexus LC 500 to a growing list of whips I can’t wait to drive this year.